Posts Tagged ‘Depression’

Depression, Anti-Depressants, and Low Testosterone Levels

February 2, 2017

Hormone deficiency is common in many middle age and older men.  It is of interest that many men using anti-depressants also are found to have low testosterone levels.

Many people that take antidepressants, specifically SSRI’s (selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors), find out that they have low testosterone.  We are not certain about the mechanism of action of SSRI’s and low T levels but the effect is certainly prevalent.

Many men with depression tend to have lower than average sex drives. It is the depression that is thought to lead to disinterest in pleasurable activities like sex. Men may be so depressed and have a decreased libido, that they don’t feel like having sex.

If your testosterone level were to be lowered, the natural result would be a reduced sex drive. This reduced sex drive could be linked to depression – therefore testosterone could play a role.

Individuals with lower than average levels of testosterone could be experiencing depressive symptoms as a result of their low T. Studies have found that among men with abnormally low levels of T, testosterone therapy helped reduce symptoms of depression.

It is well documented that antidepressants can affect hormones. Therefore some hypothesize that hormonal changes can influence our sex drive. It is not known whether antidepressants are the culprit behind lowering levels of testosterone. Many men that have taken SSRI’s believe that the drugs they took lowered their testosterone.

On average, men tend to naturally experience lower levels of testosterone by the time they reach age 50. By age 60 it is estimated that 1 in 5 men have problems with their testosterone. In cases where men experienced a reduction in their level of testosterone and simultaneously became depressed, increasing testosterone levels can be therapeutic.

In older men, testosterone therapy may prove to yield antidepressant effects. Most medical research demonstrates that testosterone can have positive effects on mood. It seems as though testosterone treatment tends to be most beneficial for men who are experiencing depression as a result of testosterone decline.

Bottom Line:  Many middle age men have been placed on SSRI’s for depression.  This can result in a decrease in the testosterone level.  If you are experiencing a decrease in your libido, have decreased energy, and loss of muscle mass, you may have low T levels.  The diagnosis is easily made with a blood test and treatment consists of testosterone replacement therapy.

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Adding Spice To Your Sex Life- Cinnamon and Testosterone

July 9, 2016

 

It is normal for a man’s sex drive or libido to decline as he ages. The reason? The male hormone, testosterone, which is responsible for the libido starts to decline about 2-3% a year after age 30. This article will discuss a non-medical solution, cinnamon, that may have an impact on a man’s sex drive or libido.

Animal studies have demonstrated that cinnamon can reduce high blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity and also the testosterone boosting and testicular health. Therefore, it’s very much possible that cinnamon can be used to increase testosterone levels in humans.

 Cinnamon is a spice that you may only associate with baking and desserts, but there are plenty of cinnamon benefits that make it a great spice to use everyday and as a dietary supplement.

When using cinnamon as a supplement be sure to use organic cinnamon and not the conventional variety you typically find in the spice aisle at the grocery store. Just like with vegetables, conventional spices can contain the same herbicides and pesticides when they are conventionally manufactured.

Benefits of cinnamon:

Improves Metabolism

Cinnamon often makes it onto the list of foods that you should be eating if you are trying to lose weight. Cinnamon has the ability to rev up the metabolism, which can help you lose weight more effectively.

By the way, daily exercise is also a natural way to get your metabolism going.

 
 

Reduces Cholesterol

Cinnamon has been shown to help lower the levels of LDL cholesterol in the body, often referred to as the bad cholesterol. This makes it a fantastic all-natural remedy for high cholesterol levels.

High cholesterol over long periods of time can lead to more serious heart problems such as stroke and heart attack.

Reduces Blood Sugar Levels

Cinnamon has been shown to help keep blood sugar levels where they should be, and is often recommended to diabetics to help naturally regulate blood glucose levels. You can use cinnamon even if you are not diabetic as a way to keep your blood sugar within healthy guidelines.

Antibacterial Properties

Cinnamon acts as an antibacterial agent in the body, and with that because of that it is very helpful in treating a myriad of problems. This is why it is often recommended for an upset stomach, because it can help clear harmful bacteria from the digestive system.

Cancer Fighter

Cinnamon has been shown to be effective cancer fighting foods, and there are many reasons for this, but the chief among them is cinnamon’s antibacterial property.

More studies are needed before cinnamon can fully be given the green light and regarded as a cancer-fighting agent.

Heart Disease Prevention

Because of cinnamon’s ability to lower cholesterol levels and improve blood circulation throughout the body, it can be used to help prevent heart disease.

Anti-Inflammatory

The anti-inflammatory nature of cinnamon means that you can use it to help with a number of conditions caused by inflammation.

Helps Balance Hormones

Cinnamon can help balance hormones in women, making it a great all-natural remedy to try before turning to medication like estrogen replacement therapy. Cinnamon acts to lower the amount of testosterone produced by women, while increasing the amount of progesterone.

Helps Brain Function

The aroma of cinnamon has long been thought of as being a brain booster, and modern science is backing that up. Reason enough to start opt for cinnamon scented candles, or cinnamon essential oils for aromatherapy.  Cinnamon can help your brain work better and keep you more alert, just by smelling it.  Rather than use energy drinks or other artificial ways to make yourself zeroed in, you can use the scent of cinnamon to give you that extra mental edge needed during a typical workday.

Clears the Digestive Tract

Cinnamon can help clear out your digestive tract, which will help your body absorb the nutrients from the foods you eat more easily. This also means you’ll have fewer stomach problems including indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation.

Increases Circulation

Cinnamon has a warming effect on the body, and can help improve blood flow throughout. There are plenty of diseases and conditions, like sexual functioning, that are caused by poor circulation, so taking steps to improve that circulation can be very beneficial indeed. Improved blood flow in the body can help improve the sex drives of both men and women, as it helps blood flow to the reproductive organs. For men this means stronger erections and for women it means increased sensitivity of the clitoris and labia.

Improves Your Mood

You can use cinnamon as a sort of aromatherapy to help improve your mood. That’s because for this benefit of cinnamon you simply need to smell it. The aroma of cinnamon acts to shift you to a better mood.

Many things can occur throughout the day to put us in an off mood, so it’s important to have a collection of steps you can take to try and shake you out of a funk and get you back to feeling good.

Alzheimer’s Prevention

One of the more surprising cinnamon benefits is its ability to help prevent Alzheimer’s. Research is promising in regards to cinnamon’s effect on the brain, enough so that it would be smart to start taking it as a supplement if you feel you are at risk for Alzheimer’s.

Bottom Line: Most men and women today want to maintain and restore their ability to be sexually intimate with their partner. Yes, there are pills and medications that can be effective. However, there are natural options, like cinnamon, that are available to nearly everyone and at low or minimal cost that may improve their ability to be sexually active. Also there are numerous other benefits of cinnamon that make it a worthwhile option. It’s hard to think of a spice like cinnamon as being anything more than a flavoring agent, but which is currently being studied for its beneficial effects including sexual intimacy and performance.

Testosterone, Depression, and SSRI’s or Anti-Depressants-What’s the Connection?

December 21, 2015

Many people that take antidepressants, specifically SSRI’s (selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors), find out that they have abnormally low testosterone. So what does this all mean? Did the initial low testosterone lead the individual to become depressed and go on an antidepressant? Or did the treatment with an antidepressant actually slowly reduce the individual’s natural ability to produce testosterone?

It really is a “chicken vs. egg” type argument in regards to whether low T caused depression or an antidepressant caused low T. Unfortunately there is no clear-cut scientific answer as to whether the antidepressant you took caused your testosterone to be lowered.

With that said, new research comes out all the time finding new things about antidepressants (SSRI’s) – they really aren’t well understood. Many antidepressants medications are now linked to development of diabetes, birth defects, etc. Although there are no formal studies to link antidepressants with low testosterone, many people taking these drugs are convinced that they are the root cause.

It could have been that the lower testosterone was what caused the person to feel depressed in the first place. The low T could have also merely been a coincidence among those who are depressed – after all, having low T is a pretty common issue.

Antidepressants and Testosterone: Many people taking antidepressants experience low testosterone. Similarly, many people with low testosterone are taking antidepressants. These two factors could also occur independently. In other words a person may develop low testosterone while on an antidepressant without the antidepressant being the cause. 



Depression and Testosterone: Many people may be experiencing depression as a result of low testosterone. Similarly many people may be experiencing low testosterone as a result of depression. Additionally, these two factors could be totally unrelated and independent of each other. In other words the depression could have nothing to do with low T and vice versa.
Depression and sex drive – Many people with depression tend to have lower than average sex drives. It is the depression that is thought to lead to disinterest in pleasurable activities like sex. People may be in such a depressed, low level of arousal, that they don’t feel like having sex. Therefore in this case, it could be that the depression and not testosterone is causing reduced sexual interest.
Testosterone and sex drive – It is well known that healthy testosterone levels are linked with a healthy sex drive. Men that have low T tend to have less fuel for sex, erectile dysfunction, and other performance issues. If your testosterone level were to be lowered, the natural result would be a reduced sex drive. This reduced sex drive could be linked to depression – therefore testosterone could play a role.
Low testosterone causing depression? – Individuals with lower than average levels of testosterone could be experiencing depressive symptoms as a result of their low T. Studies have found that among men with abnormally low levels of T, testosterone therapy helped reduce symptoms of depression. For this reason it is important to rule out all causes of depression (including low T) before you get on an antidepressant.
Antidepressants and low testosterone – It is well documented that antidepressants can affect hormones. Therefore some hypothesize that hormonal changes can influence our sex drive. It is not known whether antidepressants are the culprit behind lowering levels of testosterone. Many people that have taken SSRI’s believe that the drugs they took lowered their testosterone.
Bottom Line: There is no question that there is a relationship between testosterone and depression. I cannot say for certain that low testosterone is a result of the use of SSRIs. However, if you are taking SSRIs and you are experience a low sex drive or libido, it is very easy to ask your doctor to obtain a blood testosterone test. If it is low, treatment is easily accomplished with either testosterone injections, topical gels or pellets.

Low Testosterone And Depression: there is a relationship

September 27, 2015

Testosterone is more important that sex drive\libido, erections, and energy levels. A new study has documented low testosterone and testosterone that is the lower limits of normal may be associated with depression.

The study from the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC. included 200 adult men, who were referred for borderline total testosterone levels between 200 and 350 ng/dL. Doctors typically treat men for hypogonadism or low T if they have symptoms of low testosterone and their testosterone levels are below 300 ng/dL.

The results show that more than half (56%) of the men had depression or depressive symptoms, which is significantly higher than rates seen in general populations. A recent survey of US adults found that 6% of those who are overweight or obese were depressed. One-quarter of the men used antidepressants.

Also worth noting, the men had high rates of overweight or obesity and physical inactivity. Common symptoms were erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, fewer morning erections, low energy, and sleep disturbances.

The study authors concluded that clinicians should consider screening for depression/depressive symptoms and overweight and unhealthy lifestyle risk factors in men referred potential hypogonadism.”

Testosterone replacement therapy can improve the signs and symptoms of low testosterone in these men who have documented low testosterone levels.

The researchers published their results online on July 1, 2015 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

What if I think my medicine is affecting my sex life?

October 22, 2014

In the previous blog I discussed the relationship between medications and sexual performance. This blog will make suggestions on how to approach your doctor and what are some of the options when drugs\medications impact your sexual performance.  If you are at all worried that your medicine may be affecting your ability to have sex, consult with your physician who prescribed the medication.

Do not stop taking your medicine without first talking to your doctor.

Do not be put off seeking help. Your quality of life is important, particularly if you are being treated for something like high blood pressure, which often has no symptoms and can require lifelong treatment.

Treatment of high blood pressure

  • Impotence seems to be less of a problem with ACE inhibitors such as enalapril.
  • Calcium channel blockers and alpha-blockers cause fewer sexual problems than diuretics (water tablets) or beta-blockers.
  • Loop diuretics such as furosemide have a lower risk of impotence than thiazide diuretics.

Treatment of depression

  • SSRIs cause the highest frequency of sexual dysfunction, followed by MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) and then tricyclic antidepressants.

Treatment of high cholesterol levels

  • Not all statins are associated with sexual problems. Even in those that are, the risk of developing such problems is very low.
  • Statins may be less likely to cause impotence than fibrates.

Bottom Line: Your doctor may switch you to another medicine in the same class, i.e., that acts in a similar way, in the hope that the new one will not cause the same side effects.

Alternatively, your doctor may try a different type (class) of medicine altogether, providing it is suitable for you to take.

Your doctor may also adjust the dosage and prescribe a lower dose which may have the desired effect on your blood pressure or your depression and not have the unwanted side effects of ED or lowering the testosterone level. The real bottom line is to speak to your physician to help with your medications and preserve your sexual performance.

A Pill Or Pounding the Pavement To Produce Good Health And Lower Healthcare Costs

January 5, 2014

Many times I am consulted by patients for a solution for their medical problem. Most often it comes with a pill, an injection, or a surgical treatment. But I enjoy having conversations with middle-age men who visit my office to find a solution to their problem with erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence. Many of these men are 50-70 years of age and are over-weight; take multiple medications for arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. I then have the following conversation with them:

Mr. Smith if I could offer you a pill that would lower your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol, decrease your pain in your back, knees and hips, decrease your obesity, decrease your glucose level and improve your diabetes, improve your mood, decreases your risk of prostate and colon cancer, has absolutely no side effects and is very affordable and would be covered by your insurance company, and best of all it will make your penis appear 1-2 inches longer, would you take the pill?

One hundred percent of the men say, “Why yes. Will you write me a prescription?”

I respond by gently tapping the man on his shoulder and say, “Mr. Smith, I’m so very sorry, it’s not a pill; it’s exercise!”

That’s exactly what exercise will do for you. It will improve your overall health and will make it possible to throw away so many of the multiple medications that middle age men AND women take. We are a polymedicated society and look for a pill to solve our healthcare needs. Except for genetics, which we can’t change, there are lifestyle changes that ALL of us can make that will improve our health and allow us to live longer and healthy lives.

Let’s look at the facts about obesity in America.
Obesity rates are soaring in the U.S.
Between 1980 and 2000, obesity rates doubled among adults. About 60 million adults, or 30% of the adult population, are now obese.

Similarly since 1980, overweight rates have doubled among children and tripled among adolescents – increasing the number of years they are exposed to the health risks of obesity.

Fact: Most people still do not practice healthy behaviors that can prevent obesity
The primary behaviors causing the obesity epidemic are well known and preventable: physical inactivity and unhealthy diet.

Despite this knowledge: Only about 25% of U.S. adults eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

More than 50% of American adults do not get the recommended amount of physical activity to provide health benefits.

No one knows with any degree of certainty what the Affordable Healthcare Act (ObamaCare) will bring to modern medicine. One thing we do know for sure that one of the best ways to control healthcare costs is to control obesity. Obesity-related costs place a huge burden on the U.S. economy Direct health costs attributable to obesity have been estimated at $52 billion in 1995 and $75 billion in 2003 and by now is over $100 billion of the more than a trillion dollar healthcare budget.

Bottom Line: As Everett Dirkson, the late Senator from Illinois, once said, “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you’re talking real money.” This holds true today as it was uttered by the senator nearly 50 years ago. Americans must take responsibility for their health. We need to quit looking for the quick fix or a pill to solve our healthcare problems. We need to start exercising. You will be happier, your doctor will be pleased with your weight reduction, and the percent that Americans spend on healthcare related to obesity will come down. Advice from Doctor Baum…..get moving!

P.S. How does the penis get longer from weight loss? When you lose that belly fat and reduce your abdominal girth, you will see your toes and the end of your penis for the first time in many years!

Dr. Neil Baum is a physician at Touro Infirmary and can be reached at 504 891-8454 or through his website, http://www.neilbaum.com

Don’t Let Anti-Depressants Rain on Your Love Life

September 24, 2011

B.B., a 52-year old lady, had a history of depression, which has been controlled with Prozac. She noted a waning of her libido or sexual desire. She consulted with her doctor who prescribed the Prozac and he changed her medication to Wellbutrin, which allowed her libido to return to normal, and controlled her depression as well.
Sexual dysfunction, which includes loss of libido, decrease in arousal or vaginal dryness for women and decreased libido, and erectile dysfunction in men, is common in both men and women with depression. If that wasn’t bad enough, the treatment for depression with the antidepressant medication can cause sexual dysfunction. It is estimated that 30-70% of men and women who use antidepressant medication, such as Celexa, Prozac, Effexor, Zoloft and Remeron, experience a sexual dysfunction. The lowest rate of sexual side effects occurred in patients taking Wellbutrin.
Many men and women who experience these side effects of the medication may try to resolve the problem by stopping the use of their antidepressant medication. This should be avoided, as restoring sexual intimacy is not a good trade off if the depression returns. Fortunately, there’s a solution to this dilemma for those who suffer from depression or for those who require the use of antidepressant medications.
How do you know if your antidepressant is causing sexual problems? Experts say that the trouble is probably the result of the medication if a person who did not previously have sexual dysfunction experiences problems within two to three months of beginning antidepressant treatment.
What To Do

First and most importantly, do not make any changes in your treatment regimen without first consulting your physician. Here are some suggestions which you might discuss with your physician:

1. If you are experiencing sexual side effects from your antidepressant medication, your doctor may consider switching you to Wellbutrin, which has a low rate of sexual side effects. Wait to see if sexual side effects abate.
2. Consider taking your medication after you have engaged in sexual intimacy.
3. With your doctor’s permission you may consider a drug holiday. A drug holiday involves taking a short break from your antidepressant. By taking periodic two-day breaks from antidepressant treatment can lower the rate of sexual side effects during the drug holiday without increasing the risk of a relapse or recurrence of depressive symptoms.

Bottom Line: Sexual side effects are common in men and women with depression. Most men and women can be restored to a meaningful sexual function by sharing with your doctor your concern and having him\her making changes and adjustments in your medication or changing to another drug as described in my patient B.B.

Don’t Let Anti-Depressants Put Your Sex Life To Bed

May 24, 2010

Today depression can be successfully treated with medication.  Unfortunately, sexual dysfunction is a common side effect of nearly all classes of anti-depressant medications. The side effects include decreased libido, inability to orgasm, decreased sensation in the genitals, vaginal dryness (in women), and erectile dysfunction (in men).

There are other causes of loss of libido, which includes hormone deficiency in both men and women and can easily be diagnosed with a blood test for testosterone and if the level is diminished, replacement therapy can easily be accomplished with injections and gels in men and with medication and gels in women.

If anti-depressants are the likely cause, there are several possible options. There are some anti-depressants that are less likely to cause loss of libido.  Wellbutrin is one of those medications that is associated with less sexual side effects than other anti-depressants.

The drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction, Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis have been effective in resolving the side effects of anti-depressant medication in both men and women.

For those who are on anti-depressant medication, consult with your doctor and tell him\her about the sexual side effects and the doctor may be able to decrease the dosage of the anti-depressant medication that causes the sexual side effect yet provide adequate medication to control the depression.

Another option is to ask your doctor about changing the time of day that you take your medication.  For example, if you plan to have sexual intimacy in the evening, then take your anti-depressant medication before you go sleep.  Thus the blood level of the anti-depressant will be lowest the next evening at the time you engage in sexual intimacy.

You can also ask your doctor if you can divide your anti-depressant medication and take it twice a day rather than one large dose which will elevate the blood level of the anti-depressant more than using smaller doses several times a day.

Finally, consider a drug holiday.   This involves taking a short break from your anti-depressant medication. There are reports that a two-day break from antidepressant therapy can lower the rate of sexual side effects during the break without increasing the risk of a recurrence of depressive symptoms. This approach, the weekend holiday, works with quick-clearing drugs, such as Zoloft and Paxil. One potential risk with taking a drug break from antidepressants that have very short half-lives, such as Zoloft and Paxil, is the recurrence of symptoms of depression.

Bottom Line:  Sexual side effects are commonly associated with the use of anti-depressant medications.  However, if you speak to your physician, alternatives may be found that will put your sex life back on track.

Dr. Neil Baum is a physician in New Orleans.  He can be reached at (504) 891-8454 or on his website, http://www.neilbaum.com